Auditor-General welcomes New Zealand's "clean" ranking at top of 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index

1 December 2011

New Zealand's top ranking in the international Corruption Perceptions Index for 2011 is an excellent result but should not be taken as a reason for complacency in the public sector, says Auditor-General Lyn Provost.

The 16th annual Transparency International index ranks 183 countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption. New Zealand's score of 9.5 puts it at the top of the rankings ahead of Denmark and Finland on 9.4.

"The New Zealand public sector can be very proud of the way it continues to uphold our strong system of government and our community values," Mrs Provost said.

"Nevertheless, trends overseas tell us that patterns of fraud are changing. We would be naive to think we are immune from the pressures that affect other countries and economies similar to ours. Ongoing vigilance is particularly important in the current global economic climate, which increases the risk of fraud as many people struggle to make ends meet."

The Corruption Perceptions Index is prepared and released by Transparency International, a civil society organisation fighting corruption worldwide. Rankings on the index are determined by the composite results of 17 different expert assessments and opinion surveys.

The Auditor-General uses the Corruption Perceptions Index as a way of measuring the contribution her Office makes to achieving the outcome of a trusted public sector. For Lyn to be satisfied that performance is on track, New Zealand's score needs to be maintained or improved each year. New Zealand has achieved a high place on the index since it started in 1995. Last year, New Zealand was rated first equal with Denmark and Singapore at 9.3 or 93%.

The 2011 ranking is further endorsement of the messages highlighted by the findings of a comprehensive survey of fraud awareness, detection, and prevention in the public sector, released by the Auditor-General in November.

"I have been encouraging public entities to talk with their auditors to better understand their fraud risk so they can make sure they have the most effective management controls and processes in place to protect their staff and the public purse,” Mrs Provost said.

“It is up to the management of each public entity to manage the risk of fraud, and to detect and prevent fraud. In the event that fraud is suspected or does occur, public entities are being advised to report the matter to the appropriate authorities. This is a proven deterrent for further fraud occurring in an organisation."

Mrs Provost also praised the efforts of agencies such as the Serious Fraud Office, New Zealand Police, State Services Commission, and the New Zealand branch of Transparency International for contributing to heightened awareness about preventing and detecting fraud in the public sector.

"We will all benefit from sharing information about fraud risk and ways to combat fraud," she said.

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